Siemens Dialog
15.04.2024, 18:04 Uhr

Meeting of union representatives from Siemens from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Germany

  • 25.08.2016
  • International

On June 30th/July 1st, union representatives from Siemens from the Czech Republic, Hungary (Budapest), Slovakia (Bratislava) and Germany held their annual meeting at Olomouc in the Czech Republic. It was hosted by the Czech union OS KOVO and supported by the political foundation “Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung” (FES) from Germany.

OS KOVO president Jaroslav Souček reminded of the long tradition of this meeting. Daniel Reichart and Vlado Špánik represented the <link https: _blank>FES at the meeting. Daniel Reichart is the head of the regional FES office located at Bratislava. He described the meeting as a good example of transnational union cooperation in the region which is looked upon as a model for other multinational companies.

Josef Středula, the president of the Czech union confederation ČMKOS, took part in the first day of the meeting. Harald Kern, the chairman of the “Siemens Europe Committee”, the European Works Council of Siemens, represented the German union IG Metall and the Central Works Council of Siemens Germany.

On the first day of the meeting, Mrs. Jeřábková from the HR department of Siemens in the Czech Republic gave some information about the Siemens activities in the Czech Republic. The number of employees has increased to about 9 700. It has become difficult for Siemens to recruit a sufficiently qualified workforce in the Czech Republic. The unemployment rate has dropped, the number of job vacancies has increased.

She mentioned the goal of Siemens to become one of the most favored employers. Siemens wants to reduce overhead costs; this is on a good way in the Czech Republic. The factories in Brno, Drásov, Frenštát and Mohelnice have problems to fulfill their production plans. She also mentioned the social welfare program “Restart@Siemens”, which Siemens runs to support unemployed and homeless people in the Czech Republic.

Harald Kern explained the company’s plans to relocate about 1 000 jobs from Germany to the Czech Republic. Looking at the difficulties in the Czech Republic with the recruitment of qualified workforce, this will probably be hard to realize. Siemens has lost market shares in the business of the PD division (Process Industry and Drives). Additionally, the situation in the oil and gas business is generally difficult because of the low oil price. In Germany, there will be negotiations on the issue of the job cuts in the PD division, which will probably be finalized until September/October. A cooperation between the locations in Germany and the Czech Republic will be very important to keep the business running in a reasonable way. Probably, the whole process of improving the profitability will take some time.

Josef Středula critized the low wages that are paid to the employees in the Czech Republic. The wages at the Czech Republic are only about at the amount of one third of the wages at Germany. Mrs. Jeřábková defended the wage policy of Siemens and described Siemens as a successful employer. Jaroslav Soubček, Boluslav Husák from Drásov and Pavel Holzknecht from Trutnov supported Josef Středula’s position and underlined the importance of rising wages in the Czech Republic.

Josef Středula gave an information about the current discussion on the issue of “Industry 4.0” in the Czech Republic. The Czech government denies that there is any threat to the number of jobs by this development and excludes the Czech unions from the national dialogue on the issue. This contradicts the general discussion on the subject in the European Union and the rest of the world. The introduction of “Industry 4.0” will affect the whole society and will have consequences especially in the sectors job security, education, protection of privacy or safety.

Harald Kern informed about the discussion about “Industry 4.0” at Siemens. In Germany, the unions are included in a national dialogue together with representatives from government, companies and academics on the consequences of the introduction of “Industry 4.0”. At Siemens, the subject is covered under the headline “Digital Enterprise”. The software “Team Center” is the main tool at Siemens for the introduction of “Industry 4.0”.

At the Hannover fair, Siemens presented several applications of “Industry 4.0”, in which Siemens is involved, such as Energy Management, software applications, 3-D-printers, data clouds or data glasses. All solutions can be adapted to the customers’ needs and cover each step in the manufacturing chain. There are consequences in the field of education of the skilled workers as well as of the management. All sectors of employment will be affected; especially low-skilled jobs will be endangered. It will be necessary to take care of the education of the employees and to use any possibility to take influence on the company’s decisions by the employees’ representatives.

Siemens is one of the leading companies at the introduction of “Industry 4.0”. It will be important that the standards for this development will be defined in Europe. The unions have to demand the highest possible standards concerning the introduction of new technologies to avoid the loss of jobs and to maintain the existing standards of the provided working conditions. The unions have to be respected as partners in dialogue by the company. Especially the “Siemens Europe Committee”, the European Works Council of Siemens, provides the chance to receive the relevant information and to take influence on decisions.

Jiří Hanák critized several negative general developments like the low wages in the Czech Republic, the introduction of working time accounts, the use of agency workers or the practice of the “3i” system at Siemens, which covers the suggestions of the employees for improvements at the workplace. Jaroslav Souček mentioned the decision of the IndustriAll-Europe congress to support the demand for equal wages in whole Europe.

Harald Kern said, that the problem of the use of agency workers also exists in Germany and other European countries. Especially the union representatives from Denmark and Norway used their presence in the “Siemens Europe Committee” to point out the negative facts of the use of agency workers to the management and to improve the situation in their countries. Gábor Kun from Hungary and Ladislav Annus from Slovakia explained, that in their countries there are regulations that limit the use of agency workers.

Harald Kern pointed out the major developments at Siemens of the recent past. Siemens has purchased the company Dresser-Rand, which is a major supplier of the oil industry, especially in the US. Siemens has also formed a joint venture with the Spanish company Gamesa for its Wind Power business, in which Siemens holds the majority of the shares. The Siemens headquarter at Munich has been renovated and is now re-opened. IG Metall and the Works Council in Germany used this opportunity to protest against the management’s plans to cut another 2 000 jobs in Germany.

The “Siemens Europe Committee” has defined its agenda and has agreed to focus on the topics of strengthening the influence of the employees’ representations in Europe, to support innovation and investment and the creation of jobs in Europe and to help to change the culture at Siemens to be more cooperative.

The union network at the Czech Republic is a good example for union cooperation at Siemens on national level despite the provisions of national law. This should be the standard at Siemens everywhere. The transnational union cooperation should be expanded following the value chain at Siemens. Most important is a common understanding among the union representatives from the different countries of the obligations and the goals of the employee representation.

Lukaš Bartoš also mentioned the resolution of the “Siemens Europe Committee” concerning the relocation of jobs out of Europe at Siemens. This resolution has been sent to all union representations at Siemens in the Czech Republic in Czech language. Jaroslav Souček stated the support of OS KOVO for the resolution of the “Siemens Europe Committee”.

On the last day of the meeting, the union representatives exchanged information about current developments at the different Siemens locations. All representatives stressed the importance of strong trade union organizations at all level especially regarding collective bargaining and its results and also to represent the workers interests. Problems to recruit new members do not only exist in the Czech Republic, but also in Hungary and Slovakia. Representatives from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia also again stressed the issue of low wages and the need to change this trend step by step. That is why they agreed to compose a brief common declaration regarding to this issue which will also be sent to IndustriAll Europe.

» a Czech version of this report can be downloaded as a pdf via the link above (Siemens-MeetingVII-16.pdf)